Will ‘more toff than tough’ Geordie Greig take the ‘Daily Mail’ into the realm of rational? Matthew Steeples suggests that’s as likely as Jacob Rees-Mogg donning a Kappa tracksuit and dancing a jig with Diane Abbott
Yesterday, in an opinion piece for The Guardian, Jane Martinson claimed new editor of the Daily Mail Geordie Greig “finds himself walking on a tightrope” as he juggles keeping Brexiteers, remainers, anti-immigrant readers and his pugnacious proprietor happy.
In her overall observation, Martinson is entirely right. Greig’s arrival marks a major change at the paper in that he comes not from the world of political journalism of his “poisoner in chief” predecessor Paul Dacre, but instead is an Old Etonian who has edited “aristocrat’s favourite” Tatler magazine and written about the life of the louche father of fourteen and “unapologetically self-absorbed” portrait painter Lucian Freud.
Described by The Observer in 2005 as “Britain’s most connected man” and married to a Texan, Greig, in many ways, harks back to the era of David Cameron and George Osborne’s politics. He, like them, lives in Notting Hill, is a “friend” of the “socialite” Oxford-LSE graduate wife of (the Mail’s owner) Viscount Rothermere, Claudia Clemence, and is even credited with persuading the former chancellor’s new boss, Evgeny Lebedev, to buy the Evening Standard in 2009. In this regard, I’d argue, this 57 year old is very much a key component of the establishment elite that is what I like to mockingly term: ‘The Club.’
Greig comes from what can limply be termed “a nicer school of journalism” and despite his grandfather having briefly flirted with the far right when he joined the January Club, “an establishment ginger group for the British Union of Fascists,” he is himself seen to be cultural and no enemy of the postmodern era. This former fashion writer collects works by the pro-Margaret Thatcher, pro-Prince Charles collaborative artists Gilbert & George and supposedly has already “[ripped] out Dacre’s [old fashioned] panelling and chintz office and [brought] in his own [‘Notting Hill Set’ style] soft furnishings.” No doubt, the chattering classes will titter and suggest they come from OKA – the furniture emporium founded by Viscountess Astor (the mother of Samantha Cameron) that was sold to Investindustrial, the owners of Aston Martin, in January this year – but in doing so they have a point: Greig is most definitely more toff than tough.
Whether “mild-mannered… by nature liberal, fiscally conservative” Greig will be able to replace Paul Dacre’s “I give my readers a daily hate” racist, homophobic, philistine, “enemies of the people” agenda at the Mail with something more liberal and tolerant remains to be seen. It does, however, seem as likely as Jacob Rees-Mogg donning a Kappa tracksuit and dancing a jig with Diane Abbott.